Friday, February 27, 2009

Changing Minds, One Speaker at a Time

The Advocate's website has a great interview with Andy Birnbaum and Ron Elecciri, from PFLAG's Los Angeles chapter, highlighting the L.A. speakers bureau and the power of PFLAG allies to change to hearts and minds.

"For more than 30 years, the forces of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays have been uniting to make the process of coming out -- and subsequent conversations with family members, friends, and coworkers -- a little bit easier. Founded in the 1970s, today the all-volunteer organization boasts more than 500 independent chapters worldwide," reporter Jenn Kennedy writes.

"As the latest step toward raising awareness and understanding about LGBT people, speaker bureaus have been organized as offshoots of local PFLAG chapters," she notes. "These bureaus host free panels at all sorts of organizations -- high schools, colleges, businesses, employee groups, labor unions -- to help members and participants understand issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity."

"A typical panel includes straight parents of a gay son or daughter, a gay man, a lesbian, and a transgender person. Each speaker opens with a three- to five-minute introduction about the personal experience of coming out or how it felt when their child came out. They share the 'aha' moments and the intense feelings that came to the surface through the coming-out process."

"Birnbaum, 39, is a Long Island native and works as a labor union attorney. Elecciri, 44, grew up in Orange County and works in TV development at Disney. They have been a couple for 11 years and married in San Francisco in 2004 and again in Los Angeles last summer."

To read Kennedy's full interview with Andy and Ron, visit the magazine's website online here.

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